Stumbling upon flavors you grew up with whereas dwelling in a international place is like getting a heat hug. You’re immediately transported again to cherished moments: munching on an after-school snack of guava sprinkled with salt and chili powder; devouring Mysore pak, a crumbly ghee fudge, that your grandmother made; gobbling up laddoos made with sesame seeds and jaggery throughout festivals in winter months. What enhances the journey down reminiscence lane is when the flavors are available varieties you don’t anticipate. It evokes emotions of consolation and curiosity.

South Asian ice cream makers throughout the Bay Space create precisely that have. Manufacturers together with Koolfi Creamery and Kulficream within the East Bay and Pints of Pleasure and Actual Ice Cream within the South Bay use high-quality substances to make ice lotions that mix nostalgia and a style of dwelling for the native South Asian diaspora. The flavors of ice cream and kulfi — the frozen, eggless desi dessert made with milk, spices, and nuts — produced by these firms embody kesar pista (saffron pistachio), sapota, mango, rose, and extra.

The duos behind Pints of Pleasure and Koolfi Creamery each got here to the ice cream enterprise in sudden methods. Ketki Dandekar and Arshiya Shaikh of Pints of Pleasure had a brainwave throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Their youngsters had been pals and the 2 households shared meals whereas in a quarantine pod collectively. Throughout certainly one of their hangouts in spring 2020, Dandekar served two kinds of do-it-yourself ice cream — strawberry and cookies and cream — and that lit the spark. They began exploring and researching fusion ice cream flavors as they fashioned Pints of Pleasure. “Ketki likes to make ice cream and I like to construct companies,” Shaikh says.

Four ice cream cups are filled with different ice cream flavors from Pints of Joy.

Pints of Pleasure

Pint of Joy co-owners Ketki Dandekar and Arshiya Shaikh.

Pint of Pleasure co-owners Ketki Dandekar, left, and Arshiya Shaikh.
Pints of Pleasure

Priti Narayanan and Madhuri Anji turned to ice cream whereas in restoration after each had been hit by a bus in San Francisco in 2014. The break from her civil engineering job made Narayanan notice she wished to do one thing that concerned meals and folks. She grew up consuming kulfis and making desserts along with her mom in India and questioned why there have been no premium ice lotions that includes Indian flavors within the Bay Space. “On this nation, individuals don’t know the variability and astonishing degree of dessert talent in India,” she says. “You already know the French patisserie however you don’t know the various laddoos that Indians make. I wish to deliver that ahead and I assumed the medium of ice cream could be improbable.” She labored at native retailers and attended a course on ice cream on the College of Wisconsin-Madison, and in 2018 fashioned Koolfi Creamery, turning into the model’s chief ice cream engineer whereas Anji helps run the enterprise as a co-founder.

Each companies began small. Pints of Pleasure used a shared kitchen in Sunnyvale and initially supplied pick-up and supply companies, earlier than organising a small retailer subsequent to their manufacturing area. As demand grew, so did the unusual choices. Gulab jamun ice cream was the model’s first large experiment. “In weddings in India, you might have gulab jamun with vanilla ice cream and my husband loves each of them,” Shaikh says. “He steered that we strive one thing with that.” After some trial and error, she and Dandekar created a model they appreciated, a creamy base flavored with saffron and cardamom, flecked with items of gulab jamun. They developed a collection impressed by Indian sweets together with ras malai, motichoor laddoo, and gajar halwa, releasing flavors to mark Diwali and Holi. Shaikh says inspiration can strike anyplace, together with visits to Indian grocery shops. At a store, she noticed chikki, a type of peanut-sesame brittle, which led to the creation of tilgul ice cream made with sesame and jaggery.

Koolfi Creamery went a unique route in its early days, buying an ice cream cart and taking part in occasions and festivals whereas catering socials at firms like Netflix and Google. For Narayanan, the artistic course of entails “simply dwelling life.” A very good instance is the home she shares with Anji, her spouse, who has Indian and German roots. Being uncovered to western tastes and cooking strategies has influenced Narayanan’s creations. Inspiration additionally comes from purchasing journeys, like when Narayanan as soon as noticed a blueberry goat cheese that piqued her curiosity. She experimented with the flavour, including roasted graham crackers for texture, making a winner along with her blueberry goat cheese ice cream.

Koolfi Creamery co-owners Priti Narayanan and Madhuri Anji

Koolfi Creamery

An ice cream cup features a scoop of banana ice cream with two gulab jamun bites

Banana ice cream paired with gulab jamun bites from Koolfi Creamery
Koolfi Creamery

Although South Asians make up a bit of the clientele at these companies, each groups wish to attraction to a large viewers. Opening bodily shops the place desi flavors share area with acquainted stateside favorites like cookies and cream helps obtain that. Within the second half of 2022, Pints of Pleasure opened a retailer in Sunnyvale and Koolfi Creamery did the identical in San Leandro. The manufacturers can be found in grocery shops and on-line, however they knew that having a bodily area was crucial. Prospects unfamiliar with South Asian meals might battle to attach with these merchandise in the event that they see them within the freezer aisle, however a devoted ice cream store adjustments that. “With the brand new retailer, individuals ask in regards to the flavors and wish to style them,” Shaikh says. “They love the spices like cardamom and saffron.”

A storefront additionally permits for experimentation and progress: Narayanan desires to serve specialty desserts like gulab jamun sundaes and ice cream served in dosa cones made with fermented, barely candy rice and lentil batter, served alongside Indian snacks — which she now can. Most significantly, retailers enable for experiences, an area to decelerate and relish good meals. “Dessert is an event and folks want a spot to have fun ice cream,” Shaikh says.